Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit” is dead at the box office. Despite glowing reviews, the story of the 1967 Detroit riots brought apathy– just a $7.7 total after a second weekend– the first in wide release.
What happened? Annapurna Films turns out quality movies and this was no exception. But it seems like a lot of mistakes were made– no stars, for one thing. And then, the timing– right after “Dunkirk,” which is a smash, another serious film. And right in the middle of a hot summer.
Of course, everyone involved wanted to tie “Detroit” into the 50th anniversary of the incident. But “serious” movies like this one require attention and a lot of preparation. The fall and winter are better times generally to get that attention.
“Detroit” also had odd press rollout. No New York premiere. A Detroit premiere and one in Atlanta– those are nice, but not where you capture press attention. So “Detroit” counted on the great reviews. And they didn’t work.
Now what? Bring it back in November for Oscar consideration. For now, however, “Detroit” is gone. Try and see it before it leaves theaters. Bigelow and Mark Boal should never be ignored.